KWAME HOLMAN: A suicide bomber in Eastern Afghanistan killed at least 25 civilians today and wounded 30. It happened at a funeral for a village elder.
Police said the apparent target was a leader in the remote Durbaba district in Nangarhar province. There’s been fighting in the region against Taliban and other insurgents. Also today, NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said plans to hand over security to Afghan forces remain on schedule. That’s despite a surge in insider attacks by Afghan soldiers and police that killed 15 coalition troops in August.
In Syria, U.N. refugee officials said the number of Syrians fleeing the civil war has surged.
Some 100,000 people escaped into neighboring countries in August. Already, more than 230,000 Syrians are in makeshift camps like this one in Jordan. New arrivals there say the exodus is a long way from ending.
UM MOHAMMAD, Syrian Refugee (through translator): The fleeing will increase because of the increase of shelling by Syrian government forces. The shelling is still going on in Damascus, Daraa, Aleppo and Hama. Shelling is still going on everywhere.
It’s random shelling. It’s indescribable. And the Free Syrian Army doesn’t have ammunition to fight Assad’s forces.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, the head of the International Red Cross met in Damascus today with President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian leader promised greater humanitarian access for aid workers.
In economic news, U.S. auto sales saw healthy gains in August. General Motors reported a 10 percent increase. Ford was up 13 percent, and Chrysler sales rose 14 percent. The U.S. automakers were boosted especially by rising demand for pickup trucks.
Despite the auto numbers, a closely watched industry survey found overall manufacturing contracted for the third straight month. And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 55 points to close under 13036. The Nasdaq rose eight points to close at 3075.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.